Dealing with past mistakes

2020-02-03

There are two schools of thought about an artist making changes to their past work.

The first school says that making a change would kill the magic. It’s better to leave it alone, with all its flaws, in case something terrible happens when you poke around inside which makes it just not the same anymore. After all, the artist probably doesn’t fully understand their own work, right?

The second school says that art is imperfect and fluid, and as long as it’s fluid, you may as well go ahead and change it. Maybe it’ll turn out even better! When you see a mess, you clean it up, right?

These are two ways of looking at perceived mistakes, and artists think of themselves as belonging generally to one school or another. But what if it shouldn’t depend on the kind of person you are, but on the kind of mistake you’re looking at? Or on the kind of art?

Is this a mistake that should be tinkered with, or left alone?